Author Topic: Is the "SG"-vocab-list derived from the script or does it come from Frommer?  (Read 1559 times)

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Offline Na'rìghawnu

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There are different opinions about the question, how the "Na'vi-English-Dictionary" in the "Survival Guide" was compiled.

(1) One of them - supported by Taronyu (as far as I can see) - is, that the list was compiled by some (unknown) people using the script, which was written for the actors of the movie.

(2) An other one - supported by me (e. g.) - is, that it came from Dr. Frommer as a whole and was (partially) modified by some people.

As far as I understood, there are some arguments to support the first opinion:

a) The writing of Tsahaylu instead of Tsaheylu (how it is pronounced by Neytiri in the movie). It was said, that Tsaheylu should be the correct spelling, and that Frommer on purpose wrote Tsahaylu, in order to make the actors pronounce it the right way.
b) The writing of faheu instead of fahew (how Frommer himself wrote it in his Languaglog-article) for the same reason as above.
c) ?

If one follows this first opinion, it means: if one believes, that the list was compiled by people, who don't have Frommer's background-knowledge and accuracy, than one may come to the conclusion, that this list isn't so much trustworthy. And than one easily will take questionable points in this list simply as mistakes, made unintentionally or by purpose. So besides the named Tsahaylu and fahew, e. g. the Nìayoeg is regarded as a misspelling instead of Nìayoeng, or the underlining of stressed syllables is regarded as not very accurat, e. g. in the case of faheu, where the underlining just includes the "he", but not the "u" - so that the "u" in fact is seen as a single syllable also from this point of view.
To make the long story short: If one follows opinion #1, it's natural that he doesn't take the vocabulary list in the SG as a so serious source and changes all points, that don't seem to fit to one's own believes, claiming, that these points are just mistakes.

In the textual criticism used in classical philology this way to deal with questionable points is called "lectio facilior" ("more easy way to read it"), and it is regarded as a not very usefull way, because it leads to quick decision and results ... and often wrong ones. The other way to deal with questionable points is called "lectio difficilior" ("the more tricky way to read it"). It means, that one doesn't regard tricky points to fast as mistakes, but really hard tries to solve the problem strongly believing, that the tricky point is NOT a mistake, but that there is a maybe not so smooth way to explain it (considering that a valid explanation rarely is the easy one). This way - of course - doesn't lead to clear results quickly, but it surely helps not to shortwork questionable points as mistakes and helps to avoid half-cooked results, that maybe have to be changed soon.

Opinion #2 follows this lectio difficilior. It claims, that Frommer gave the complete list to the publishers and that they made some changings to it. The arguments are:

a) Nìayoeg may not be a spelling mistake, but the original version, since Frommer declared "g" the "more scientific" way to write "ng" (and "c" the "more scientific" one for "ts"). Supposing, that the list came from Frommer, it maybe, that it used the "more scientific" way, and that the "g"s were changed to "ng"s by the publishers ... missing this one in Nìayoeg.
b) I'm no English mothertounge speaker of course,  but I don't think, that actors (especially, when they are supervised by Frommer) are not able to pronounce a word like Tsaheylu correctly, unless you write it Tsahaylu. If Frommer wanted to let the pronounciation sound like [ɛj], he (IMHO) had no need to change it to "ay", because also "ey" is pronounced as [ɛj] in English "Hey! (the greeting)" or "grey" or "they" or other words, so that the actors shouldn't have such a problem to think of [ɛj], when the srcipt says "ey" (especially when they got an introduction and training on their lines). And - if this "ay" was really needed to make the actors pronounce an [ɛj], why did they need an "ay" in Tsaheylu to pronounce it the right way, but not in other words, like olo'eyktan or even Eywa?
c) There are many words in the list, that never appear in the film (script) [and vice versa!]. So, if the list was compiled using the script, where do these words come from [or where are they gone]?

I could name some further points, exspecially about the stress-marks there, but let me come to an end now (thanks for reading so much!): I think, that we should not depreciate the SG-vocab-list to much and make increments and "improvements" to this list to rashly. I would suggest to stick to this material as close as possible and to think questionable points over again and again, really trying to understand it and find an exact solution instead of declaring them to be "mistakes" and change these points to easily. In cases we can't find a solution, we would have to leave these points unresolved ... blank ... to fill it with the right version we will get some day. It's always easier to fill up a blank position than to change a position back, when one had changed it in the first time and took this changing for the right version (over - maybe - a long time), used it and constructed other changings based on the first one etc. etc. ... just to see some day, that this all was wrong.


« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 07:44:10 am by Harìghawnu »

Offline Hawnuyu atìtse'a

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The SG is confirmed by several owners on the forum to have many spelling mistakes, like every couple of pages. In the rush to get it into print, editing was more lax than usual given the timeframe. So it is not a very credible source for vocab; I would believe the pocket guide or taronyu's dictionary, and above all frommer's word.
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Offline Na'rìghawnu

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Quote
The SG is confirmed by several owners on the forum to have many spelling mistakes, like every couple of pages.

That I know very well, but I don't speak about the many pages of the book. I'm just speaking about the dictionary.
Supposing that this part of the book came from Frommer himself, it may contain much lesser mistakes than the rest of the book.
So here I just want to discuss this special part of the book.

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I would believe the pocket guide or taronyu's dictionary, and above all frommer's word.

The pocket guide and Taronyus dictionary used the SG as a primary source. In the case of the pocket guide the source not even was the book, but a copy of the vocablist of this book, which was put to the internet (inserting mistakes, missing words, that are in the vocablist of the book, eg 'awkx).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 02:57:32 am by Harìghawnu »

Offline Hawnuyu atìtse'a

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unfortunately I am of no use cause I don't own the book. Sorry, just saying what I heard
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Offline Taronyu

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Kaltxì.

I think that the list was written originally by Frommer. I hold that he had a separate list, or an earlier one, that may have been used by the actors. I hold that one of these two reasons is the cause for neu, faheu, and tsahaylu. I think that he gave this list to the book-makers, who, as we know from the rest of the book, were completely ignorant of the phonotactics of Na'vi. I believe that they had some spelling mistakes in the list - one of them in Nìayoeg, as it says clearly there that it is pronounced like nìayoeng. I do not know at what level this occured, but I suspect it did happen.

I do not take my changes lightly. This is why i note them in the dictionary, and why I haven't changed every [a] to [ɑ], as I think should happen.

I also hold that the books should not be held above the movie. Frommer stood by and watched what they pronounced, from what we know, and I refuse to believe that he would let the mispronounciation of Tsaheylu slide by. This is why I have not really been speculating on the list - I am going with the movie, and my gut. And, again, I noted my change.

You make good points. But what we are going on here is table scraps. We must wait for more information. Until that time, I stand by my editorial decisions.

Offline Na'rìghawnu

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Kaltxì, ma Taronyu.

My posting wasn't meant to criticize your changes personally. I want to apologize, if it turned out to such a thing. All I wanted to point out is, that - until we get (much) more information - it is really tricky to suspect "mistakes" in the material we got so far and to "correct" them according to personal believes, at least, as long they don't turn out to be clear typos, that means: as long as they are disputable points.

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And, again, I noted my change.

That I saw very well, and for that I can say nothing else than "thumbs up"! Good work!

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But what we are going on here is table scraps. We must wait for more information.
I completely agree.

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Until that time, I stand by my editorial decisions.
You can do this, of course. And maybe it turns out, that they are really correct. But maybe they are not. So I personally tend to NOT correct such disputable things (not even "tutee"), but leave different versions side by side, indicating that we simply don't know, what's right. That's the way I deal with these problems in my own materials, but of course, I don't want to say, that everybody else had to do it the same way. I just wanted to point out, that there IS a problem. That's all.

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Frommer stood by and watched what they pronounced, from what we know,

That's a point I am not convinced of. Because, in case he DIDN'T stand by all the time, the mispronounciations "Tsaheylu" and "toruk maktou" e. g. would be explainable much easier. So I dont hold the movie above the books, but as sources of the same value.

« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 01:32:13 pm by Harìghawnu »

Offline Taronyu

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Kehe sìkawng, tsmuk(e?). I responded in such a fashion because much of the dispute has been sourced back to me (actually, thee tsahaylu thing came from prrton, but I certainly brought it up a notch). And since I can only reliably speak for myself.

It is true that they are disputable. This is a good point, one we should all be wary of. Perhaps this thread should be a sticky in the intermediate forum. [In any case, this really isn't beginner level, so pardon my moving it there.]

I am of course ready and willing to change. Can't wait to be proved wrong: because that will mean new information. Hoorah!

You make a good point about him not standing by. I suspect Cameron might have allowed "toruk maktor" to go unnoticed, to allow for the english audience understanding.

Offline Doolio

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well, about movie over books, i agree with taronyu on that one. the movie scene has to go through many stages before we see it in the theatre. i mean, zoe would listen to frommer saying her lines, then she would have to work with him on pronounciation, then, there are more takes for one scene, then, there are two or three scenes with "tsaheylu" spoken, then, in the later stages, scenes are put together etc etc etc...
it just seems that chances for something like that to slip are minimal...

also, there is my rather insane theory about neytiri addressing jake in english when pronouncing "tsaheylu":) as time goes, i think that it's not so much insane:) i mean, na'vi have 'kunsip', why the english speaking skypeople wouldn't have "tsahayloo"? or, for instance, when jake is taming the ikran, neytiri shouts "tsaheylu, jake" - she is clearly speaking in english, for there is no vocative included. maybe she is simply approximating the phonetic of an untranslatable word (tsahaylu - the bond is not that adequate of a translation) to an english speaking person, thus, spelling it like an american - tsahaylu = tsa-hay-loo. i think that only one mentioning the bond is neytiri and also, only when adressing jake. so, maybe, if she were mentioning the bond to tsu'tey, she would say it like "tsa-hi-loo".
...taj rad...

Offline wm.annis

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Frommer stood by and watched what they pronounced, from what we know, and I refuse to believe that he would let the mispronounciation of Tsaheylu slide by.

This may not be the case.  Mark Okrand, the inventor of Klingon, has said that there's pressure on the set linguist to not cause too many retakes.  See this (about 2:30 in):



So it wouldn't surprise me if there is some linguistic retconning Frommer has to do.
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Offline Doolio

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still, i doubt that she would say 'tsaheylu' instead of 'tsahaylu' three times in two scenes, it's pretty easy to pronounce right, and she seems to be a solid pronouncer of harder words and sentences (never ever you will be part of the na'vi).
...taj rad...

Offline Txur’Itan

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Frommer stood by and watched what they pronounced, from what we know, and I refuse to believe that he would let the mispronounciation of Tsaheylu slide by.

This may not be the case.  Mark Okrand, the inventor of Klingon, has said that there's pressure on the set linguist to not cause too many retakes.  See this (about 2:30 in):

So it wouldn't surprise me if there is some linguistic retconning Frommer has to do.

Excellent post, extremely informative, it explains so much.
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Offline Na'rìghawnu

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Excellent post, ma wm.annis! I also think, that retconning will be necessary.

@Doolio:
I don't think, that this is so unbelievable. Just imagine, that Frommer wasn't at set, when the one scene was done. He couldn't correct Zoe. Or, maybe, he stood by, but didn't mention the mistake. Or he mentioned it, but wasn't able to convince Cameron, that the scene had to be redone. Anyway. In the result we have this one scene, with "Tsahaylu" pronounced the wrong way in it.
Now everything is like a chain reaction: If there is the one scene with the "Tsaheylu" in it, the other scene, where the word occurs again, had to have also "Tsaheylu" to avoid the impression, that even a Na'vi isn't sure how to speak Na'vi-words (would be really strange, if Neytiri says "Tsaheylu" sometimes and sometimes "Tsahaylu"). And as a further result, Frommer will have to change the original "Tsahaylu" (which he very well may have liked) to "Tsaheylu" in future times, because everyone saw the mowie and therefore is convinced that it has to be "Tsaheylu". Even if Frommer would like to defend his "Tsahaylu", he nearly has no chance to stay to it, since all the people heard "Tsaheylu" in the film. And so, "Tsaheylu" may become standard. Chain reaction ...
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 08:11:03 am by Harìghawnu »

Offline Na'rìghawnu

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And as an other "proof" I want to remind you on this statement, given by Dr. Frommer himself in his Vanity Fair-Interview (underlining done by me):

Quote
And if there are any inefficiencies in the language, nobody would be able to point it out yet, right? You could just fix it without anyone knowing?

Well, I try to be consistent to the rules that I’ve constructed for us. At this point, nothing is—I don’t think anything is published yet on the language, which means that if I want to make a change, I can make a change. This inevitably happens when you’re using it with real people and actors that are trying to learn the lines. There are times when something didn’t come out exactly as I had intended, but if in fact what came out was consistent with the sound system of the language and the rules of grammar, then I said, “Guess what? That’s a word.”

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2009/12/brushing-up-on-navi-the-language-of-avatar.html

So at least there ARE such times ...


And from the Cosmic Log Article:

Quote
The sounds were sometimes real tongue-twisters for the actors, who had to be taught how to say their Na'vi lines. "I didn't think I could get through it," Zoe Saldana, who plays the alien heroine in "Avatar," told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not good with languages. All the actors, we worked together. It was the only way."

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/12/30/2163435.aspx
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 12:27:28 pm by Harìghawnu »

Offline Hawnuyu atìtse'a

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Frommer also said early on that he wanted the fanbase to help with the growth of the language. Whether that means creating words or promoting the language I'm not sure. We can basically make only compounds of words, but this forum has done a helluva job promoting the language.
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Offline Na'rìghawnu

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And another one from Dr. Frommer (in his UGO-Interview):

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Jordan Hoffman: Were you on the set a lot?

Paul Frommer: On the days when there was a lot of spoke Na’vi I was on set. I had a few 13 hour days on set in the Na’vi village, for example.

http://movieblog.ugo.com/movies/paul-frommer-interview

In other words: on the days, when there wasn't a lot of spoke Na'vi, he was NOT on set. Maybe, the "Tsaheylu"-scene was done on such a day.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 12:21:42 pm by Harìghawnu »

 

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